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12 weeks to 720, then 3 weeks to 750 - My story of willing & winning

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Joined: 03 Feb 2019
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GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
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12 weeks to 720, then 3 weeks to 750 - My story of willing & winning  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2019, 12:42
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I finished writing the GMAT few days ago, and scored a 750 (Q49, V42, IR 6, AWA 6). :)

This was my target score when I started preparing for the GMAT back in February of this year. In my first attempt (May 4, 2019) I managed to score a 720. While it was a good score, I knew I could do better with some smart tweaks and better time management. So I decided to take another attempt at the GMAT, and below is the story of how I went from not thinking about GMAT 4 months back to breathing GMAT for the last 4 months, and of going from 0 to 720 to 750 in this time period.

If you’re interested in everything I did and my experiences with GMAT preparation, please read on. If you’d rather want to read my review of study materials and get some quick tips on preparation, skip to the sections titled 'Study Material Review' and ‘Tips for Success (Questions to ponder on)’.

Index

  • Study Material
  • Study Duration
  • Preparation Debrief
  • Practice Test Performance
  • Test Day Experience
  • Study Material Review
  • Tips for Success (Questions to ponder on)


Study Material

Study Material

Test Series
    First GMAT Attempt: Veritas Mocks 1-7, GMATPrep Official 1-4
    Second GMAT Attempt: GMAT Prep Official 5-6

Online Question Banks


Study Duration

12 weeks for first attempt + 3 weeks for second attempt
I studied while working a full-time job, and dedicated about 3-4 hours on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends (including full-length practice tests). I studied more on public holidays and took some days off here and there to study as well.


Preparation Details

First Attempt Prep

I started my preparation with a couple of baseline tests (see more about performance in the next section), to understand where I stood. Post that, I quickly moved on to understand the basics of the different sections and the nature of questions asked within each - for this I used the Kaplan book. It’s a good resource to get yourself familiarized with what the GMAT tests, and is a good start to adapt the ‘GMAT way of thinking’.

I identified early on that I needed to devote more time to SC in Verbal, and DS in Quant, and so used to practice these two sections a bit more than the other two. But eventually, as I moved further in my preparation and closer to the actual test, I tried to focus on all sections equally. I attended a couple of eGMAT webinars on SC and RC as well.

I started with solving the OGs. This might seem odd, but I skipped the basic OG in my first round of practice entirely and straight up solved the Review OGs. I went through these rather quickly, and managed to finish both in about 7-10 days. Overall, I personally felt that the review OGs were quite easy, and only a few questions towards the end seemed challenging. This reaffirmed my faith that the idea of skipping the main OG was worth the trade off; I wanted to use my time judiciously, and wanted to move quickly to more challenging problems that would push my thinking and conceptual applications levels.

After exhausting the review OGs, I turned to online Question Banks. There are some really great resources available for free, namely the Veritas Question Bank and the eGMAT Question Bank. I would create practice tests out of the available questions, doing a 36-questions Verbal set, followed by a 31-question Quant set (since that was what was going to be my order), or I’d split Verbal and Quant practice between my morning and evening study sessions (with the full-time job during the day).

After about four weeks of practising and studying in this manner, I added regular weekly tests to my preparation. The idea was to start building test stamina; I figured I had around 10 weeks until the actual GMAT, and having initially exhausted all the free CATs available from different players in the market, I turned to a paid test series. After reading online reviews and talking to some peers, I went ahead with Veritas because of the overall positive feedback and also because of an offer that reduced the cost of the 6-test pack (test 1 is free) from $49 to $18! Along with this, I bought GMATPrep Tests 3 & 4, and decided to solve those two on the two Saturdays prior to my actual GMAT, since I wanted to simulate a more realistic GMAT environment closer to the test.

I took all these tests with the same seriousness that I would have taken the actual GMAT - minimised entropy by taking the tests at the same day and same time slot as my actual GMAT schedule, did not pause tests, used the same break time strategy that I was going to in the actual test, did not use phone, etc.

Second Attempt Prep

Post my first GMAT attempt, one of the biggest challenges I faced was that I had run out of most of my prep resources - question banks and test series - and I didn’t want to solve old problems again as I feel that novelty is the biggest quality of GMAT and the best way to improve your understanding of concepts is to challenge yourself with newer problems.

Given that I was going to reattempt the GMAT in less than 4 weeks, I did not bother about scrambling for multiple resources. After my first attempt, I knew I had two major areas of improvement - Quant ability and time-management skill. I had an interesting chat with ScottTargetTestPrep from Target Test Prep, and decided to give their prep material a shot. I pretty much solved half of their paid Question Bank over an extended weekend (within my 7-day trial period). This was a good confidence boost, and at this point, I decided to start solving GMAT Club Question Bank. I had heard a lot about the quality of questions, and felt like challenging myself. I would aim at solving 1-2 Quant CATs a day, devote time to a thorough analysis, and do a Verbal CAT once every 2-3 days. During this period, I also solved the ‘Hardest SC’, ‘Hardest RC’, ‘Hardest CR’ PDFs circulating on GMAT Club forums. I turned GMAT Club CATs into full test simulations occasionally , by taking a Verbal CAT immediately followed by a Quant CAT.

I only took two full tests leading up to my second attempt - GMAT Prep Official Test 5&6. I took one test 7 days before my actual GMAT, and the other 3 days before my GMAT. (I know this is contrary to popular advice, but I wanted to shake things up a bit from the previous time, where my approach was more conventional. This approach definitely felt more ‘my style’ and I liked being engaged in prep right up until the test day.


Practice Test Performances

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Test Day Experience

I will only talk about my second attempt here, as I have written about my first attempt in another post.

I had booked a GMAT slot at the same test center, so getting there was a familiar task this time around, and definitely reduced the anxiety a bit. I had booked a late morning slot, and reached an hour earlier before the scheduled time. The test center was not as busy as it usually is, and after completing the formalities I actually got to start the test about 45 minutes earlier than my scheduled time.

The order I decided to go with was Verbal, Quant, IR/AWA.

Verbal - I was stumped for a while on the first couple of questions, probably just a case of nerves and starting off a cold engine. But after that proceeded smoothly through the next dozen or so questions. I was more careful with my time-management this time around, and kept pushing through questions with an eye on the clock, trying not getting sucked into analysis-paralysis on a few CR questions.
I got a total of 4 RC passages, two of which were comfortable to read through, one that appeared in the third quarter of the test was a really long historical-political read with slightly tricky questions, and the last one was a short passage which was fairly simple. Overall, I felt like I had done as well or maybe slightly better than the last time.

Quant - First 5 questions were really easy. In fact, I had to double check each question, especially the DS questions, to see if there was any trap. Again, in this section I was focused on time-management, as that had cost me dearly last time in Quant. I managed to follow the time-limits I was working with, but around the midway mark I encountered a tricky word problem and went into circles on it, before realising the craftily worded question language. I believe I spent about 5-6 minutes on this question (bad idea, and something that I had planned not to do, but I guess that’s the treacherous beauty of GMAT; it will suck you in right when you think you’re above the surface).
From there on, I was playing massive catch-up games and towards the end I had about 8 questions left with 14 minutes to go! I powered my way through some tricky modulus and algebra inequality questions. Then, the third last and second last questions were arithmetic questions with some hefty calculations involved and I tried to save time on those through approximations. Still had a minute and few seconds to go through the last question, which was a simple enough inequality question, and I knew the answer the moment I looked at it, because I had seen a similar question somewhere in my preparation. However, the fatigue, pressure, and distraction took its toll, and I marked an option that I knew was incorrect the moment I pressed the ‘Next’ button! Finished the section with 2 seconds to spare. Phew.

IR - A few tricky and rather lengthy Multi-Source Reasoning questions popped up at the start, and knowing that this section isn’t adaptive, I spent some time on them and then made some guesses and moved on. The rest of the section was rather uneventful.

AWA
- The argument had to do with a government body suggesting hosting an international sporting event in the country, based on the success of a past football event that that country had hosted. Followed the template suggested by chineseburned and made three points against the argument.

As I clicked submit on my writing piece, I covered my eyes with both my hands. I usually am confident about facing results, but this time, there were too many emotions at play - last time’s near-miss, the pressure to get it done this time, all the effort that had gone in - however, when I sneaked through I saw a 98 in the bottom row of the percentile column. I immediately removed my hands and looked at the screen to see the magic number I’d been wanting to see for a while. 750 (Q49,V42,IR 6). A wave of relief rushed through my body, and I sat there admiring the computer screen, till the proctor came over and prompted me to accept/reject the score. I accepted the score (obviously), collected my test result, and walked out of the test center with a smile. Received my AWA score today and got a perfect 6.0 (thank you chineseburned).

In hindsight, though I'm satisfied with the performance, it feels a bit bittersweet in terms of section scores. After focusing on Quant and consistently getting 50/51 in GMATClub tests, I was hoping to have a similar performance on test day. Also, my Verbal scores in the two prior mocks were 48 and 44, so 42 felt a bit low. :P
But this also shows why GMAT is such a unique test (and GMAC anyway says that test-day scores are not the truest indicator of someone's ability and might be within 30 points of one's actual ability). Apologies for sounding like a crybaby if I do, but I'm happy with the score, for now. :)


Study Material Review

Manhattan Guides - An exceptional resource indeed. Each guide is easy to follow and covers all the concepts related to the topic in question. The quant guides and the advanced quant guide were especially helpful for me, as was the SC guide. I would recommend these as your main theoretical resource both for Verbal and Quant. For Quant, once you have a relatively decent level of comfort with the basics, try and complete the Manhattan Advanced Quant Guide. I found that this book helped not just with my conceptual clarity but also with my test-taking ability for the this section.

GMAT Club Math Book - I used this book once I had gone through the Manhattan Guides. At under 150 pages, this book is the most succinct way to the most thorough GMAT Quant prep. The content focuses more on problem-solving and GMAT-readiness. You’ll find basic formulae, tips, tricks, unique applications, and everything else here. It’s both a great add-on to your basic Quant resource and a go-to resource for revision.

OGs - A must do. The focus while solving the OGs, in my opinion, should not be on speed but rather clarity and accuracy. If the OG seems easier to you, like it did to me, it would be a good idea to skip it and instead solve Verbal Review and Quant Review OGs instead. This is a good foundation to start understanding what the GMAT tests and how it does that.

Veritas Question Bank and eGMAT Scholaranium - Highly recommended. The quality of questions, especially in Verbal section, is really high in both the QBs. You'll be sufficiently challenged, and the analysis and answer explanations are clear and straightforward.

GMAT Club Question Bank - The best resource for Advanced level Quant practice. That said, it is not a resource to be used only in advanced stages of your prep, or once you've finished other 'basic' resources. I made this mistake, and perhaps if I had overcome my fear of the 'level' of this resource and solved it earlier, I'd have developed a much clearer understanding of both basic and advanced Quant concepts.

Target Test Prep Quant Question Bank - A great resource if you are facing fundamental challenges in Quant. I love the approach of dedicating a huge number of questions to each topic, segregated by difficulty. It would be ideal to use this resource early on in your prep, to develop confidence in each topic. The quality of questions is good, test analytics are comprehensive, and I especially like the feature where you can mark the nature of the mistake you made.


Tips for Success (Questions to ponder on)

  • Should you work hard, or should you work smart?
    First work hard, then bring smartness in. On the GMAT, it pays to ‘know things’, however the real dividends are reaped by those who master the art of test-taking. Think of this as a three-layer pyramid.
    • The bottom third consists of knowing and learning all the basic concepts across all subsections - you just can’t do without this foundation.
    • The middle layer is of application. This translates to solving a lot of problems, so that the concepts you’ve learned are drilled into your brain. The more you practice, the clearer the concepts will get. Without practice, you’ll never identify areas of weakness, and hence never overcome those. Without doing full mocks regularly, you’ll never build up stamina for the GMAT. You’ll probably not feel confident walking into the test, because you’ve not simulated this scenario enough number of times before. This is mostly hard work, brute force, and persistence. This middle layer connects your foundation to the peak.
    • The topmost layer - the peak - is more art. This is where smart work plays a major role. Refining your test taking strategies, maintaining error logs, tweaking your CR or SC approach, learning how to speed-read through RC passages, tips and tricks to improve time management, reading others’ test experiences to know what to do and what not to do, and so on. This top third consists of anything that will help you find another gear and push the needle when you thought it couldn’t be pushed any further.
      And the pyramid will only be complete (and look beautiful) when you bring these three layers together.

  • Should you be an optimist or a pessimist, while preparing for GMAT?
    Optimism will help you start preparing for GMAT, pessimism will help you continue preparing for GMAT. To elaborate, at first it will look like there’s a lot you need to do, and the task (your target goal) will almost feel insurmountable (if you’ve set it ambitiously enough). However, you’ll have to believe that you can do it, otherwise you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and drop out altogether. That’s where you need to be optimistic.
    But as you progress, always look for improvement. Don’t be contend if you’re doing good. Good is good, but better is better. Think of that. Get over your practice test results as quickly as you can. There’s no point in sulking about a bad mock result, or feeling too happy about a good mock result. Neither of those is your actual GMAT result. From the bad performances, learn about your mistakes. From the good ones, learn about the things you did right/differently. Being pessimistic will make you uncomfortable. And being uncomfortable will make you better. And persistently chasing ‘better’, will help you deliver your best on the test day.

  • Should you have a favourite child (subsection)?
    I have seen people talking about their strongest subsections and weakest subsections. I discarded this notion early on in my prep, and resisted from picking it up throughout my prep. The GMAT will test you equally on your ability in each subsection, and so it pays more to be an all-rounder. Here’s how you can go about doing this:
    • At first, you will obviously have to dedicate more time practicing your weaker sub-sections. Remember, this categorisation is based on your baseline performance and not on a perception.
    • Try bringing all your subsection abilities to similar levels. The faster you do this, the better.
    • From them on, work on each subsection equally hard. Don’t do only SC for 4 hours everyday just because you suck at it, and don’t not do PS because you feel you’re a math wizard. You might well be one, but unless you’re consistently challenging yourself with new problems, you’ll risk falling out of the zone. Remember: Be an all rounder, and always stay in the zone!
    • Practice both Quant and Verbal each day.
    • Practice till you can’t practice anymore. Then practice some more.
    • Maintain an error log. Some other log suggestions (for Quant): ‘Concepts to remember’, ‘Unique Conceptual Applications’, ‘Shortcut Solutions’, ‘My Most Common Mistakes’
    • Take each mock test as if it were the actual GMAT, and the actual GMAT will feel like one of the mock tests. This means doing a full-length mock, including IR and AWA. (yes, none of us likes to do that, but that’s what needs to be done!)

  • How to reduce your GMAT test-taking entropy? And why and how you should introduce a little anarchy at times?
    I talked about reducing entropy in GMAT preparation - this means simulating test conditions as closely as possible, in every practice session, day after day. It should reflect in the smallest of actions you'll take, including the way you're going to setup your answer pad (I used the Yellow Pad technique suggested in this article : https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-gmat-time-management-part-3/)

    But personally, I also mixed things up by practising at odd hours or at times when I wasn’t at peak energy levels. This approach was my worst-case scenario preparation. There are chances that things can go wrong on the test day - you might not get enough sleep the night before, you aren’t able to focus as well, you had a massive fight/break up with your partner a day before the test (yikes). So, at times I practised late at night; sometimes I practised in a noisy environment such as a public cafe; I even practised after arguments with my partner (I would like to believe I didn’t intentionally cause those :tongue_opt1 ). Basically, you need to push every lever, and condition your brain to provide optimal output even when the input might be sub-optimal.

  • How to create a support system when you are preparing for GMAT?
    • Friends - Best way to make yourself accountable - tell a few close friends about your GMAT prep. This will serve two purposes - when they make weekend plans and you consistently ditch them, they won’t get offended; additionally, if you do decide to let loose, they will remind you that you need to prep for GMAT!
    • Study partners - I didn’t have study buddies, but I did keep in touch with a few aspirants I came across on some GMAT Club forums. It both kept me motivated and made me feel competitive.
    • Family/Partner - They are usually the pillar of unconditional support you need when things don’t go your way during the prep (and there would definitely be times when things won’t go your way)
    • GMAT Club Community - There are so many wise and helpful people here! Use the community, it’s a resource that I would definitely vouch for!
    • You - Talk to yourself. Not in a loony sort of way that makes people doubt your sanity, though you may lose bits of it by the time you’re done with GMAT. But you will have to keep introspecting about things as you prepare. You will have to internalize approaches, remember mistakes, counter self-deprecation and negativity, push your own limits, and give yourself pep talks every now and then. And all this won’t happen if you aren’t self-aware and self-communicating.
    • Additionally, if you have flatmates/roommates it’s a good idea to tell them about your GMAT plans, so that they are aware of your study schedule and hopefully cooperate with you in minimising distractions/disturbances.

  • How to make your GMAT prep more cost effective?
    As a business graduate, you’ll invariably be required to focus on ROI and to generate the most bang for the buck. (And from my experience of working in a start-up, sometimes you’ll be expected to make a bang without any buck to spare!)
    So, how do you implement that in your GMAT preparation? Here are a few things I did, which might help your bring down the financial costs associated with the test:
    • I borrowed or sourced a digital copy (PDF) of all the study materials I have listed above. They weren’t the latest edition, but I think they did a reasonably good job.
    • I used every single credible free mock test available (checkout the GMAT Club page that details this). Additionally, I was kind of lucky to get the Veritas test series for a steal.
    • I used free Question Banks from Veritas and eGMAT. The Veritas QB has about 250 Verbal and 250+ Quant high quality questions. The eGMAT scholaranium has 200 Verbal questions, and around 150+ Quant questions. That’s around 850 high quality questions, with easy to use dashboards and easy to understand explanations, for free!
    • I split the cost of test packs and subscription costs of online questions banks with another GMAT aspirant and we shared a common login.
    All in all, I spent under $125 on study material prep and test series, across 4 months of preparation and two GMAT attempts. Pretty good ROI, in my opinion. :)

  • What should you do in the days leading up to the GMAT?
    This is quite subjective. There are more experienced people in this community who have spoken on this topic, and I feel their advice might be applicable to more people than my own methods. I tried two completely different methods in the weeks leading up to each of my two attempts, and neither was necessarily bad. Some general tips would be - eat well, sleep well, hydrate well; stay off social media as much as possible (for focus and energy preservation); leverage your support system (see above) emotionally and mentally; do hygiene logistic roundups - location of test centre, mode of transport, travel time estimation etc.

  • Should you reattempt the GMAT?
    The answer to this will depend on these two factors:
    • What was your goal score and how far did you land from that score?
      From personal experience, I would say that one should be willing to accept a score upto -20 points of their target score. This margin should increase or decrease based on the ambitiousness of the original target (please accept a 750 if you were aiming for an 800 :lol:). I would say, always have a target score as well as a floor score: the score at which you’ll call it a day. For me, going into my first attempt, even though I was aiming for a 750, my floor score was 730 (based on my own profile strength, the programs I was aiming for, etc). I knew I was going to reattempt at anything below 730, and while it sucked to see a 720 on the screen, I immediately knew what my course of action from there on was.
      It’s easy to get sucked into the ego-race around GMAT scores these days, and you wouldn’t know when you’ve crossed the fine-line between ‘growth mindset’ and ‘mindless pursuit’. Which brings me to...
    • What is the opportunity cost of covering this gap? What is the marginal utility of another attempt?
      The closer you land to your target score (or range) the greyer it gets. Are you willing to prep another 4 weeks aiming to get a 20 point increase? Do you know what exactly would it take to break your plateau, and minimise any factors that might stop you and that may not be in your control? Could you use these 4 weeks to instead boost another aspect of your application, and do you think doing that might have a higher impact on application success? Remember, GMAT is but one aspect of your application. Think of time as money, and spend it like you’re buying success with it.

PS: I’m willing to help further. I’m a big believer in the Karmic cycle, and since I received a lot of help, guidance, and support from this community, I’m willing to give it back in some way. So feel free to DM me for a chat/advice/tips/clarifications etc. You can also ping me for any resources I mentioned above, I can share PDF copies/logins etc. whatever would be possible.

I wish you all the best for your GMAT journey!

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war”

PPS - If this post helped you in any way, show your love with kudos. :please
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My GMAT debrief: 12 weeks to 720 --> 3 weeks to 750
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New post 12 Jun 2019, 17:53
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Wow! Congratulations! Fantastic Score!!!

How many hours per day and days per week did you end up studying?
Did you take any days off? What about weekends?

Thanks so much for sharing!
BB.
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Re: 12 weeks to 720, then 3 weeks to 750 - My story of willing & winning  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2019, 02:44
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bb wrote:
Wow! Congratulations! Fantastic Score!!!

How many hours per day and days per week did you end up studying?
Did you take any days off? What about weekends?

Thanks so much for sharing!
BB.


Thanks bb :)

This is what my study schedule looked like on most days for those 4 months:
Monday to Friday: 2-2.5 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the evening (on average, there were days I'd come late from work or be drained)
Saturday: 3.5 hours of test taking in the morning, followed by about an hour of test analysis. 2-3 hours of studying in the evening.
Sunday: 3-4 hours of studying, preferably early in the day (I like keeping my Sunday evenings free of any kind of work)

I didn't take too many days off from prep, except after my first GMAT attempt when I probably went easy for 4-5 days and took time to revise and reflect instead of diving straight ahead into prep.
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My GMAT debrief: 12 weeks to 720 --> 3 weeks to 750
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Re: 12 weeks to 720, then 3 weeks to 750 - My story of willing & winning  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2019, 12:13
Thanks! That is .... brutal! Maintaining that schedule for 4 months is hard! I suddenly remembered my isolation of studying for GMAT and having to skip almost all activities. I did not take any days off either but I think it would have been healthy (though I probably would have felt guilty).

Are you applying this season? is it on to the applications at this point? Have you identified the schools? (I think with that score anything is on the table really and it is all about the profile, essays, GPA, and those other pesky things).

Thanks,
BB.


variantguy wrote:
bb wrote:
Wow! Congratulations! Fantastic Score!!!

How many hours per day and days per week did you end up studying?
Did you take any days off? What about weekends?

Thanks so much for sharing!
BB.


Thanks bb :)

This is what my study schedule looked like on most days for those 4 months:
Monday to Friday: 2-2.5 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the evening (on average, there were days I'd come late from work or be drained)
Saturday: 3.5 hours of test taking in the morning, followed by about an hour of test analysis. 2-3 hours of studying in the evening.
Sunday: 3-4 hours of studying, preferably early in the day (I like keeping my Sunday evenings free of any kind of work)

I didn't take too many days off from prep, except after my first GMAT attempt when I probably went easy for 4-5 days and took time to revise and reflect instead of diving straight ahead into prep.

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12 weeks to 720, then 3 weeks to 750 - My story of willing & winning  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 28 Jul 2019, 21:24
bb wrote:
Thanks! That is .... brutal! Maintaining that schedule for 4 months is hard! I suddenly remembered my isolation of studying for GMAT and having to skip almost all activities. I did not take any days off either but I think it would have been healthy (though I probably would have felt guilty).

Are you applying this season? is it on to the applications at this point? Have you identified the schools? (I think with that score anything is on the table really and it is all about the profile, essays, GPA, and those other pesky things).

Thanks,
BB.


Yeah, I think I got a bit late into the game so there was no option but to go full throttle! Of all the things I skipped (and there were quite a few), working out was the one that I really missed the most. I did try keeping up with it initially, but there was a point when I was risking burning out, and some tough decisions had to be taken! Traded this score for a little lower belly fat increase :lol: And ditto on the feeling guilty bit!

Yes, I am planning to apply this season. Have started warming up to the process - a massive excel sheet with school ranks, stats, preferences, deadlines, info from peers, points for essays etc. is shaping up. I'm also having some preliminary talks with a few admissions consultants (and wondering if I can/should go solo on that front :|)

My list of target schools looks something like this: Stanford, Haas, Kellogg, Fuqua, Ross, Anderson, Cornell.

Couple of questions for you bb:
1. Consultant or no consultant? My only reservation is the astronomical fees really, however, the ROI does seem favorable.
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My GMAT debrief: 12 weeks to 720 --> 3 weeks to 750

Originally posted by variantguy on 13 Jun 2019, 13:02.
Last edited by variantguy on 28 Jul 2019, 21:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 12 weeks to 720, then 3 weeks to 750 - My story of willing & winning  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2019, 16:42
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Sorry about the wait. Stupid job got in the way :-)


10 years ago a second MBA meant probably an automatic ding but things are different now. Some schools are still old-school but they’re much more open minded if the first Degree was from a different country and perhaps more of a masters.

I’m glad to hear you’re not trying to be a consultant as that tends to get harder this time. The industry you picked is pretty specific and will likely recruiting off campus... and Haas is a great fit with that but so is Ross and Fuqua and Yale. Often, candidates looking for sustainability get generous scholarships since burdening them with a bunch of debt kind of goes against the whole idea but sometimes comp is really good. Depends on the company.

The decision about admissions consultant is easy. If you have some friends who are current students all have recently graduated from a top 10 program, You can leverage them for the very similar help admissions consultant would provide you with. Also since you’ve gone through the experience before, you can wing some of it. At the same time if you don’t have a couple friends or contacts he can leverage to review your essays, to give you feedback about your profile, and poke holes in your resume, I wouldn’t risk waiting an extra year and get a consultant on your side. Many folks will get a consultant for half the schools they apply to and then they do the rest on their own.

I would highly recommend applying in both round one and round two rather than just trying to cram everything into round one. I’ve been working on the post about that and hope to have it ready within a week.

It’s great you got GMAT out of your way at this point in time. It’s a fantastic score especially this many years out of high school and college. AdCom will notice that.

BB

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New post Updated on: 28 Jul 2019, 21:27
bb wrote:
Sorry about the wait. Stupid job got in the way :-)


10 years ago a second MBA meant probably an automatic ding but things are different now. Some schools are still old-school but they’re much more open minded if the first Degree was from a different country and perhaps more of a masters.

I’m glad to hear you’re not trying to be a consultant as that tends to get harder this time. The industry you picked is pretty specific and will likely recruiting off campus... and Haas is a great fit with that but so is Ross and Fuqua and Yale. Often, candidates looking for sustainability get generous scholarships since burdening them with a bunch of debt kind of goes against the whole idea but sometimes comp is really good. Depends on the company.


Haha, no worries, we all gotta bring home the bacon!

Yeah, my first degree, even though a PGDM was focused on communications and my major was Digital Communications. We had a lot of focus on marketing, by extension, but it wasn't a hardcore business-y degree.

bb wrote:
The decision about admissions consultant is easy. If you have some friends who are current students all have recently graduated from a top 10 program, You can leverage them for the very similar help admissions consultant would provide you with. Also since you’ve gone through the experience before, you can wing some of it. At the same time if you don’t have a couple friends or contacts he can leverage to review your essays, to give you feedback about your profile, and poke holes in your resume, I wouldn’t risk waiting an extra year and get a consultant on your side. Many folks will get a consultant for half the schools they apply to and then they do the rest on their own.

I would highly recommend applying in both round one and round two rather than just trying to cram everything into round one. I’ve been working on the post about that and hope to have it ready within a week.

It’s great you got GMAT out of your way at this point in time. It’s a fantastic score especially this many years out of high school and college. AdCom will notice that.

BB

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Agree with the R1/R2 split strategy. I already kind of have an idea of which ones I want to target in R1 and which ones in R2. I'm looking forward to your post!!

In terms of my existing network, I do have one or two people I know - both students and recent graduates - in each of my dream schools and I'm trying to reach out to others too. But it's just that this is my first time applying, so being new to the process as well as treating this as a 'one and done' scenario, I think I'd need to prioritize where I spend most of my time and effort. In any case, I'll make up my mind by next week and start the work. It actually feels like GMAT prep was the easier part of the process! :lol:

This has been a really helpful conversation bb, much appreciated! :)
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My GMAT debrief: 12 weeks to 720 --> 3 weeks to 750

Originally posted by variantguy on 14 Jun 2019, 02:18.
Last edited by variantguy on 28 Jul 2019, 21:27, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 14 Jun 2019, 08:50
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Sounds great and I agree with you - with GMAT Prep, the "enemy" is much more defined and exposed and known. With applications, it is quite vague and uncertain, esp if the school has not opened the applications yet. Of course a consultant would help with that or something like the Applicant Lab system - it is a combination of structuring your notes, applications, tracker for each school and videos to help you with each stage of the process (100+ hrs of videos).

Whichever path you take, be prepared to work hard and start far in advance on your applications. Many suggest 2 schools per month but it is possible to squeeze in 3 as there are economies of scale, esp now that essays are similar and LOR's are very similar but still, the biggest challenge will be getting your recommenders to fill out all those a forms on time and reminding them to do it 10 times and make sure they do a good job at it and not just submit the night before.

I will post my application strategy idea and share a link next week.
Thanks!
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New post 14 Jun 2019, 12:14
variantguy That's some determination. Congrats!
I'll be writing my test in 30 days and I'm struggling to push beyond 680 in the mock tests while my target is 720+
Any quick tip will help me.

Thanks
S
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New post 14 Jun 2019, 13:45
sushmithaseshan wrote:
variantguy That's some determination. Congrats!
I'll be writing my test in 30 days and I'm struggling to push beyond 680 in the mock tests while my target is 720+
Any quick tip will help me.

Thanks
S



I would definitely re-read the post as it has a lot of helpful tips.
Also, to point out, your question is too vague and any answer you will receive will have to be equally vague. For example, a good answer to your question would be "study harder" or "study smarter". I think both are true and accurate but not helpful. But what can you expect if you did not say that you are looking for help with CR, SC, PS, DS, Timing, Test taking, etc?


P.S. This goes along with how you should be networking with current students and alums in BSchools. If you ask them for something so generic, that will require either a one-liner or a 2-page reply, what do you think they will reply? your question needs to show respect, research, and show that you have done you homework, and possibly show some genuine interest in the other person. :cool:

Good Luck!
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New post 14 Jun 2019, 14:10
Loved every bit of your debrief, my friend. All the best to you for your applications.
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New post 14 Jun 2019, 14:21
sushmithaseshan wrote:
variantguy That's some determination. Congrats!
I'll be writing my test in 30 days and I'm struggling to push beyond 680 in the mock tests while my target is 720+
Any quick tip will help me.

Thanks
S


Hi sushmithaseshan,

As bb also pointed out, I can't really provide a reliable and useful answer to your question in its current format. :|

It would help if you could share more - particular areas of weakness, kind of mistakes, your test taking strategies. Tell us a problem and maybe we can help with a solution.

Cheers!
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New post 14 Jun 2019, 14:24
rahulsehgal wrote:
Loved every bit of your debrief, my friend. All the best to you for your applications.


Glad that you found it useful! Thank you for your wishes! :)

Cheers!
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New post 02 Dec 2019, 20:37
Great read mate! So you took a full CAT each day of the weekend in March and then once a weekend in April? Very interestin.g

Did you review mistakes/notes during the week? If you reviewed, what did you do specifically?

What test banks / practice CATs did you find most beneficial to improving your verbal?
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New post 03 Dec 2019, 00:48
Hey @dcummins, thank mate! Glad you found it useful!

I did maintain an error log/reflection book and made sure I was documenting extensively in it. I also reviewed the test - at least the part where I recorded the errors - almost immediately after because things would still be fresh in my mind. I would then do the course-correction over the week, along with regular practice, and test the following week to see if there was progress.

I lost the excel sheet where I was doing this, but mainly I was tracking the following things:

  • Accuracy rate for Verbal and Quant (even though the nature of the correlation between how many questions you get right/wrong vs. your section score is not entirely clear, I found it useful to just know whether I was getting more or less accurate over time, and would often reflect on this in context of how difficult/easy I found the respective mock test overall).
  • For each section (Verbal and Quant), I maintained a log of accuracy for the sub-sections. It helped me understand where exactly I was making the mistakes, and I focused my efforts on improvements accordingly. For example, my DS accuracy was much lower than PS in Quant, and so during my Quant study and practice, I was always focusing more on DS.
  • Nature of mistake - I found this the most useful. For each incorrect question, I documented the reason why I made that mistake. If I remember correctly, I was using 4-5 buckets to classify - 'did not know the concept asked,' 'did not comprehend the question correctly,' 'execution mistake - calculation, the formula used, etc.,' 'silly mistake.' Then I took corresponding actions. Bucket #1 was the easiest to deal with, and I think as I studied more, the errors there became almost non-existent. Buckets #3 and #4 were lost opportunities, and so I focused a lot on reducing those kinds of mistakes, and it helped to keep track of whether I was controlling the controllable.
  • Question bank - I also bookmarked/noted down questions where there was a unique concept used or a very useful/nifty execution method was posted in the explaining solution. Especially for Quant since that was my weaker area.

In terms of resources for improving Verbal, here are some I found extremely useful:
  • The Veritas Prep app was terrific in terms of enhancing my execution skills on Verbal. The lectures are super easy to follow and drastically improved my concepts, especially on CR. Here's a link to the Android app (not sure if it's there on iOS): https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... mand&hl=en
    Note: The app is poorly built (too bad!) and crashes a lot, and I spent a lot of time just dealing with that, but it was worth it!
  • For practice, I found the Veritas free question bank, the eGMAT Scholaranium, and the 'hardest questions' collection on GMATClub to be the most useful.

Let me know if you have any other specific things I can help out with! :)


dcummins wrote:
Great read mate! So you took a full CAT each day of the weekend in March and then once a weekend in April? Very interestin.g

Did you review mistakes/notes during the week? If you reviewed, what did you do specifically?

What test banks / practice CATs did you find most beneficial to improving your verbal?

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New post 03 Dec 2019, 01:51
variantguy wrote:
Hey @dcummins, thank mate! Glad you found it useful!

I did maintain an error log/reflection book and made sure I was documenting extensively in it. I also reviewed the test - at least the part where I recorded the errors - almost immediately after because things would still be fresh in my mind. I would then do the course-correction over the week, along with regular practice, and test the following week to see if there was progress.

I lost the excel sheet where I was doing this, but mainly I was tracking the following things:

  • Accuracy rate for Verbal and Quant (even though the nature of the correlation between how many questions you get right/wrong vs. your section score is not entirely clear, I found it useful to just know whether I was getting more or less accurate over time, and would often reflect on this in context of how difficult/easy I found the respective mock test overall).
  • For each section (Verbal and Quant), I maintained a log of accuracy for the sub-sections. It helped me understand where exactly I was making the mistakes, and I focused my efforts on improvements accordingly. For example, my DS accuracy was much lower than PS in Quant, and so during my Quant study and practice, I was always focusing more on DS.
  • Nature of mistake - I found this the most useful. For each incorrect question, I documented the reason why I made that mistake. If I remember correctly, I was using 4-5 buckets to classify - 'did not know the concept asked,' 'did not comprehend the question correctly,' 'execution mistake - calculation, the formula used, etc.,' 'silly mistake.' Then I took corresponding actions. Bucket #1 was the easiest to deal with, and I think as I studied more, the errors there became almost non-existent. Buckets #3 and #4 were lost opportunities, and so I focused a lot on reducing those kinds of mistakes, and it helped to keep track of whether I was controlling the controllable.
  • Question bank - I also bookmarked/noted down questions where there was a unique concept used or a very useful/nifty execution method was posted in the explaining solution. Especially for Quant since that was my weaker area.

In terms of resources for improving Verbal, here are some I found extremely useful:
  • The Veritas Prep app was terrific in terms of enhancing my execution skills on Verbal. The lectures are super easy to follow and drastically improved my concepts, especially on CR. Here's a link to the Android app (not sure if it's there on iOS): https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... mand&hl=en
    Note: The app is poorly built (too bad!) and crashes a lot, and I spent a lot of time just dealing with that, but it was worth it!
  • For practice, I found the Veritas free question bank, the eGMAT Scholaranium, and the 'hardest questions' collection on GMATClub to be the most useful.

Let me know if you have any other specific things I can help out with! :)


dcummins wrote:
Great read mate! So you took a full CAT each day of the weekend in March and then once a weekend in April? Very interestin.g

Did you review mistakes/notes during the week? If you reviewed, what did you do specifically?

What test banks / practice CATs did you find most beneficial to improving your verbal?



Thanks for your detailed response. I've been doing something similar, but I don't specifically focus on reducing 'silly mistakes' as much as I should. I guess the only thing I do is be cognizant of the mistakes I tend to make. For example I tend to misinterpret stuff quite a lot. I don't know why this happens - maybe exam/ time pressure or maybe i'm exhausted- but i'll interpret in a different way than the way it is actually stated.

So you review after you do tests/ questions, go back and calibrate your plan and adjust for weak points to focus on in that week? Thats pretty much what i do if so.

I guess I need to cover more of my weak points.

For some reason I can't pull off stable verbal scores in official gmat sitting, hence why i've gotten 650 so many times. Barring the last exam I took, my quant seems to be good at Q47-48, but as a native english speaker I feel its almost given that I should be hitting V40, but in my practice I seem to be stagnated.

For example, I sat a Manhattan CAT Today (verbal component only) and scored a V36. I scored this exact same score 3 weeks ago though - the last time I took the test. Perhaps its because I don't test as frequently... I see that as the biggest difference between myself and you in terms of exam prep... I'm sorta in awe at how much you tested and your linear progression lol...


Thanks for the links. I note that the veritas app is android only though.

Did you use just the free question banks of the providers you referenced?
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New post 03 Dec 2019, 10:19
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dcummins wrote:

Thanks for your detailed response. I've been doing something similar, but I don't specifically focus on reducing 'silly mistakes' as much as I should. I guess the only thing I do is be cognizant of the mistakes I tend to make. For example I tend to misinterpret stuff quite a lot. I don't know why this happens - maybe exam/ time pressure or maybe i'm exhausted- but i'll interpret in a different way than the way it is actually stated.

So you review after you do tests/ questions, go back and calibrate your plan and adjust for weak points to focus on in that week? Thats pretty much what i do if so.

I guess I need to cover more of my weak points.


Yeah, I think I took it personally to not make any silly mistakes or errors due to a lapse in concentration - GMAT is already a pretty tough exam as is so why make it tougher on myself to score, haha!

I think I tried to identify patterns rather than obsess with isolated errors, and then prioritized working on anything that seemed to be cropping up repeatedly, until I had taken care of it and it showed in the mock results. I think I too had the 'misinterpretation' issue in Verbal early on, especially in CR and I realized that I was making the classic mistake of assuming stuff and facts because of real-world biases. That's one of the many things I learned not to do from the Veritas app lectures. I decided to completely remove my real-world biases and information while dealing with any question in CR, and that immediately started showing results.

dcummins wrote:
For some reason I can't pull off stable verbal scores in official gmat sitting, hence why i've gotten 650 so many times. Barring the last exam I took, my quant seems to be good at Q47-48, but as a native english speaker I feel its almost given that I should be hitting V40, but in my practice I seem to be stagnated.

For example, I sat a Manhattan CAT Today (verbal component only) and scored a V36. I scored this exact same score 3 weeks ago though - the last time I took the test. Perhaps its because I don't test as frequently... I see that as the biggest difference between myself and you in terms of exam prep... I'm sorta in awe at how much you tested and your linear progression lol...


Haha, I might sound like a nerd but I absolutely love taking tests, especially something as adaptive as GMAT. It's almost like playing a game where the opponent keeps getting smarter and you have to keep getting better too! But yeah, besides gauging my progress, I also wanted to really condition myself mentally, physically, and emotionally for the final exam and develop that muscle memory to just go in on the big day and conduct business as usual. Big believer in the power of habit! :-D

But it wasn't a truly linear progression - I plateaued for a while too. I think it happens to everyone, and it helps to identify the patterns of error-making and deal with those (besides obviously working on foundational conceptual strength). For Verbal, I found it useful to develop a unique approach (mostly a mix of what that Veritas app teaches and tips from the Manhattan blog series) for each of the three sub-sections that really worked for me. It took multiple iterations, but I think once I had it nailed, my Verbal scores improved and didn't fluctuate much. I think it might help you as well to completely go back to the basics and see if your approaches are leaving you vulnerable to making the same mistakes over and over

dcummins wrote:
Thanks for the links. I note that the veritas app is android only though.

Did you use just the free question banks of the providers you referenced?


You could also check out their YouTube account. I think they have the same videos uploaded on their channel there.

And yes, I only used the free question banks, besides the Veritas test series and GMATClub test package. :)
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New post 03 Dec 2019, 14:26
Thanks man. Well deserved.

I’ll need to focus on my reasons for errors I guess. It makes sense. I’ll take everything you’ve mentioned into consideration for sure!

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New post 03 Dec 2019, 15:15
Sorry mate, one thing I really wanted to understand is whether you went back and resolved those same questions you got incorrect? Did you create your error log from every question you did or just from exams?

Just trying to understand if I should also try and dedicate time to re-doing previously incorrect questions/ reviewing flash cards etc.

I actually went through my errors and saw that I wasn't really focusing on why I was getting them incorrect.

Now, the errors I've documented go back to the beginning of the year and as you can see I get a heap wrong due to timing. Oddly enough timing was a huge factor for me in the last test and in my ESR you can see I had 86% correct, 86% then plummeted quite dramatically to 46% dn 36% correct - likely due to fatigue and timing constraints.
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